Chinese moot $3bn power station

HARARE - A Chinese delegation has announced plans to invest $3 billion towards construction of a 1 200 megawatt (MW) thermal power station.

The investment comes as other investors, including Essar Africa Holdings, have expressed interest to construct thermal power stations and plug the country’s power deficit which now stands around 800MW.

Harare businessman Ken Sharpe recently said he is seeking to open an alternative energy production firm, Infinite Energy Africa, that will add to the national grid by converting the landfill methane gas from the City of Harare’s main landfills into electricity.

Currently Zimbabwe has a huge power deficit, with production averaging 1 400MW against rising national demand of 2 200MW.

Addressing journalists at the Economic Planning ministry yesterday, Guangdong Bureau of Coal Geology (Guangdong) director general and head of delegation Mu Yong said his company had made prior enquiries to invest in thermal power generation.

“We have already discussed everything about thermal power with our partners in government and the Chinese central government (and) we are now here to see for ourselves because of the amount of money required,” he said.

He said the company requires enough coal to support the power plant as well as adequate water supply and a sound transport network.

“We also hope Zimbabwe can provide good policy like labour law and other support,” he added.

When completed, the power plant is expected to employ 2 000 permanent workers.

Economic planning minister Tapiwa Mashakada said electricity generation is a priority in government.

“We welcome this and we do not limit them only to electricity generation.

“We have gold, platinum, agriculture and other areas that are ready for investment,” he said.

The Chinese visitors were yesterday schedule to meet Mines minister Obert Mpofu.

They are expected to meet  Zimbabwe Invest Authority management, Energy minister Elton Mangoma and visit some of the country’s power stations this week.

Mangoma early this year held talks with China Railway International over plans to build a 1 000MW coal-fired power plant in the country.

He said state-owned Zimbabwe Power Company was in talks with China Railway International, a subsidiary of China Railway Group, to jointly run a coal mine that would supply the proposed plant.

According to the ministry, the project is expected to take between three and four years to finish.

Zimbabwe has short-listed bids for the expansion of its Hwange Thermal Station and the Kariba Hydro-Plant to boost their combined output by 900MW.

Independent power producers with projects that have the potential to generate a total of 5 000MW have been licensed but are yet to start work.

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